Thursday, November 29, 2007


12 ways to keep the weight off during the holidays

The holidays are upon us, which means fun, family, friends and food…lots of it.
Caloric temptations are everywhere, which can make it difficult to stick to healthy habits. In fact, it is estimated that we put on 5-10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years.
This comes as no surprise when you consider all the opportunities to “overindulge” during the holidays–the large holiday meals with all the trimmings, the deliveries of goodies to your workplace from grateful customers/co-workers, the holiday parties, just to name a few.
So, trying to lose weight during the holidays may be an unrealistic goal. Instead, aim to maintain your weight during this time. Consider that it takes 3500 calories to gain one pound. This may seem like an awful lot of calories but over the course of a week, it really is not. If you consume 500 more calories per day than you expend, this can result in a 1-pound weight gain per week. So you might ask yourself – what does 500 calories look like? Here’s a glimpse:
 1 cup of egg nog and 1 Lindt chocolate truffle ball
 1 slice of pecan pie
 1 slice of fruit cake w/8 oz Irish coffee
 1 slice of pumpkin pie w/whipped cream
 6 oz roasted turkey (light and dark meat, skin-on), ½ cup stuffing
¾ cup candied sweet potatoes, 1 roll with butter
 1 slice apple pie, 1/4 cup vanilla ice cream
 1 cup of mashed potatoes w/1/2 cup turkey gravy
 1 (3.5 oz) serving of peanut brittle
 5 small shortbread cookies, 8 oz hot chocolate w/whipped cream
 ½ cup crème brulee, 4 oz champagne
 6 soda crackers, 3 Tbsps Wis-pride Port Wine Cheese Ball
Now that you have an idea of what 500 calories could equal in holiday foods, how can you try to avoid gaining weight during the holidays?
Try these tips:
1) Have a healthy snack before you go to a party. If you’re not starving when you arrive you will be less likely to overeat.
2) At buffets, survey what’s available before you start piling food on your plate. Knowing ahead of time what is available may prompt you to choose smaller portions or choose only your favorite foods.
3) Limit calorie-laden beverages like mixed drinks, punch and Eggnog; choose low calorie drinks the majority of the time (i.e., sparkling water w/lemon)
4) Limit gravies and cream sauces or foods prepared in a cream sauce and deep fried foods
5) Look for: skinless turkey or chicken breast, grilled fish, steamed vegetables, tossed salad or fresh fruit.
6) Eat whole grains when possible – if whole wheat pasta, bread or brown rice are available choose these over regular pasta or white rice. The fiber in them will help you to feel fuller longer.
7) Have a small portion of your favorite dessert or share it with a friend
8) Bring a healthy dish if you’re invited to a party.
9) Eat only foods you like. Just because cranberry sauce is traditionally served with turkey does not mean you must have some if you would rather not.
10) Once you have chosen your food-step away from the food table! Remove yourself from temptation-concentrate on mingling with friends or family instead.
11) Eat slowly and savor each bite.
12) Make physical activity a priority! Take a walk after a big meal, take your kids ice-skating or skiing, dance to your favorite music, do laps around a mall before you do your shopping-find excuses to move more and limit sedentary activities like television watching or sitting at the computer.
Happy Holidays!
Catherine Schneider is a Registered Dietitian in the Food and Nutrition Department at The William W. Backus Hospital. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. E-mail Ms. Schneider and all of the Healthy Living columnists at

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